Talk quail hunting with an avid hunter, and the question, can you hunt quail in the rain, is bound to be a topic of discussion. Old-timers go back and forth about the pros and cons of it. The truth of the matter is that quail hunting in the rain can be quite good…. At times.
You see, quail don’t repel water as ducks do. This means when they get wet, they get cold a lot like humans and other fur bearing mammals. What does this mean for quail hunting, and how can we as hunters adapt to find success?
The truth is that hunting quail in the rain can produce great results. The trick is to know how and where to hunt for quail in foul weather. The following are a few tips that can help new and experienced hunters alike to a hunt of a lifetime in wet conditions.
TIP 1: Follow Current Weather Trends
Following weather trends days or even a week before a hunt provides real time data on recent conditions. Pay attention to patterns such as morning, mid day and afternoon temps in order to predict quail activity.
For the sake of this article, is the rain constant, intermittent, or a light mist? Is it cold rain or warm rain?
TIP 2: Hunt Quail Just Before Weather Hits
Knowing when the weather is gonna hit plays a big part in a successful quail hunt. These can be an ideal time to be in the field or on the mountain. It’s my experience that quail often will come out of the dense brush to feed just prior to rain.
Why are quail active before the rain?
Mountain Quail and Valley Quail will be active before rain in order to forage. Feeding increases metabolism, thus increasing heat output. Since quail can get wet, although they will try not to, they must have a way to replace heat lost in the cold environment.
TIP 3: Light Rain is Okay
Hunting during light rain or mist can be lights out when quail hunting. For some reason, my best hunts have come in light rain or mist. My opinion is because it’s not cold enough for significant heat loss and food sources become more abundant.
Light rain presents an opportunity for these upland birds to graze and forage insects and bugs. Quail are smart birds and won’t pass on this opportunity. For this reason, I highly advise that you at least try hunting quail in light rain, you won’t be disappointed.
TIP 4: Hunt Quail After Heavy Rain
For the same reason, quail hunting before rain is productive, hunting them after can be just as rewarding. Many times I have sat in the truck and waited for heavy rain to pass through. I knew the rain would pass because I knew the forecasted weather conditions. After heavy rain, the birds will want to replenish lost nutrients from the colder front.
Also worth noting here is that quail seem to covey up after a rain. For this reason, you will find larger numbers of birds in close proximity. A healthy covey and a precise hunter can yield results real fast.
Tip 5: Hunt Thick Brush and Rocks
When cold weather arrives, quail tend to hunker down, finding thick cover for protection and to stay dry. These birds will oftentimes be very hard to stir up. Sometimes you will need to be right on top of them or even kick the brush in order to jump them.
Pay attention to the type of brush they hold up in. I have found patterns where the quail will be held up in one type of brush over another.
Make sure and check near larger rocks or outcroppings in the rain. These areas almost always have a place to stay dry in adverse conditions. Quail know this and will hold up here in groups.
TIP 6: Hunt Late Morning in Cold Weather
I have found that in the coldest of conditions quail will sit on the roost longer in the mornings. Starting hunts an hour later than normal can save some time and cold fingers. Unfortunately, the only way you’re going to know if they are holding on to the roost longer is by getting out there and learning.
Keep this tip in mind if you have a multi-day hunt planned or multiple trips in a week if the weather remains cold. In any case being outdoors is a win no matter what so use this tip as you will.
TIP 7: Warm Days Mid Winter
Identifying a warm day in mid winter may be one of the best tips you get from this article. My best days hunting quail have come in mid winter in higher elevations on a warm day. One of my primary quail hunting spots is at about 3500 feet. Find a south facing aspect with a snow line, this is easier said than done.
Hunting the snowline ensures you see the quail coming out of higher elevations to dry out. The South facing aspect ensures that you will have the sun shining for the longest part of the day, creating the warmest aspect to hunt. These areas have everything quail need to survive and historically, these are my favorite areas to hunt.
Other Consideration For Quail Hunting in the Rain
Don’t forget that hunting in the rain produces slippery surfaces. Keep in mind that your typical footwear may not be suitable. Equally important is visibility. Hunting quail in winter or rainy conditions will reduce visibility. Wear your blaze orange while quail hunting and prevent unfortunate accidents. Remember that even if you don’t find quail, don’t get discouraged. At least you spent a day outdoors doing something you love.